This Saturday is the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 landmark Supreme Court ruling that struck down the “separate but equal” segregation in public schools.
The case began in 1951, when 13 parents representing their 20 children filed for a class-action suit against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas. The parents argued that the “separate but equal” system that was in place fostered racial inequality to the detriment of African-American students.
After the historic unanimous Supreme Court ruling, the American discourse on racism began to change. Two years after Brown v. Board, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. African-Americans began to organize sit-ins to boycott businesses that denied equal services to blacks. Following suit a few years later was the Civil Rights Act: the legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
In the 60 years that have passed since Brown, there has been a 44 percent decrease in the rate of African-American high school dropouts. African-American adults now hold nearly the same amount (85 percent) of high school diplomas as white adults (89 percent). In 2013, research found that African-Americans are the most likely to value their postsecondary education.
The improvements in African-American education following Brown helped to foster racial equality within the country. Despite the improvements, research shows there’s still more work to be done before equality has been reached.
Improvements are being made in our state to enhance education for all students. Many schools in Minnesota are on track to cut the achievement gap between white students and students of color in half by 2017. Last month, Gov. Dayton said in his State of the State address that increasing our commitment to early childhood education is critical to closing the achievement gap.